Thursday, January 17, 2013

An interesting place...

Several years ago, Cheryl and I had the opportunity to travel out west together for a training class I was attending. We structured our time to be able to sight see after my training and we made a trip to the Hoover Dam which is a quite impressive structure. We saw the inner workings of the hydroelectric plant and I’ll not forget walking along the bottom of the dam and looking up at that wall of concrete holding back the waters of the Colorado River that has produced Lake Mead. In the middle of that dam, there is a fat white line painted on the concrete. That white line marks the border of Arizona and Nevada and I like most tourists who travel to that spot, had to get a picture of myself straddling that line allowing me to stand in two states at one time.

In a similar way at the beginning of 2013, I believe we find ourselves in an interesting place in that we straddle two years at once. It is the unique time of year when can reflect on what transpired in 2012 and also look forward to what is coming 2013. Last year we had some wonderful opportunities for ministry and labor for the Kingdom of God. Our church family was faithful in their tithes and offerings and even in a horrible economy you proved that God’s financial program for funding His Kingdom business cannot be improved upon and is recession proof. We engaged in several mission trips out of country and also here in the United States. Seeing first hand God’s work and being a part of that work last year through the eyes of those mission trip participants as you shared with us what the Lord did in and through you causes us to rejoice. We all as a church participated in those trips through prayer and through financial support as members of this church body. We engaged in what we called our “Super Summer of Service” where we took ministry beyond the walls with various servant evangelism projects that included feeding parking meters downtown or giving out water and ice cream in Shamrock park.

We saw a number of decisions for Christ and public declarations of those decisions in believer’s baptism, as well as many new additions to our church family and each week a number of new guests coming to Calvary. Invariably when meeting guests, I learn that they have a relationship with one of you and you invited them to come. We also experienced much pain together for a variety of reasons with many of you loosing loved ones in death, illness or tragedy. Just yesterday I was signing letters being mailed to folks who are going to mark the 1st anniversary of a loved one’s passing and I marveled reading those letters a year has passed since your loved one has passed. I mourn with you in the reality that year has already passed since your loss.  I mourn with you who’ve lost loved ones very recently and the void and sorrow you are experiencing.

We concluded 2012 with a wonderful celebration of Advent and I don’t know about you but I thoroughly enjoyed how we rekindled the season of Advent with a special focus each week. The music of the season warmed my soul in worship and I was blessed beyond measure with our music ministry’s Christmas presentation. Our Christmas Eve service was wonderfully special and dreams of a white Christmas became reality as the snow fell during our services! With a marvelous crescendo of joy, I got the 2nd best Christmas present I’ve ever been given as a pastor, our Lottie Moon Christmas offering for international missions was nearly $46,000.00, almost $16,000.00 over our goal! The gift of sharing God’s love on the mission field through this offering to support our IMB personnel is 2nd because Jesus is the greatest gift I’ve received. I have spent much time rejoicing at this wonderful offering total because I know the impact this makes for God’s Kingdom! I am so proud of you as you continue to demonstrate your heart for the world.

2013 is on us and we’re off to a tremendous start kicking off our Wednesday Small Groups, Choir and Awana ministry in full swing once again. Our building was teaming with people this past Wednesday night! It thrills my soul to see God’s church gathering together and deepening their relationships with Christ and one another. By the time you read this issue of the Way, I’ll have shared my “State of the Church” message celebrating last year’s ministries but casting a vision for what God wants to do in 2013.  I see great opportunities that abound as our ministry teams have been laying a foundation of clarifying their purposes, goals and the plans to achieve those goals and maximize our impact for the glory of God. There are numerous opportunities to make a difference for the Kingdom and invest to in people’s lives. We’ll go on mission at home and abroad, across the state or right in our own neighborhoods.

Through prayer and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I know that while we will continue to serve and minister, we must take time and be intentional to care for our own souls. I believe 2013 is to be a year of healing for our church family as we have lost much and experienced much pain and sorrow personally in our families and corporately as a church. That healing process has begun through the study I’m facilitating on emotional fitness. Malachi 4:2 promises: “But to you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings and you shall go out like stall-fed calves.” We know this prophecy is talking about the Lord Jesus and it is interesting to me the prophet said Jesus is the “Sun of Righteousness”, not the “Son of Righteous”. Jesus would proclaim He is the Light of the World and that those who follow Him shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life (John 8:12).  Jesus is shining brightly on Calvary Baptist Church. He has risen with healing in His wings and He beckons us to follow Him on a grand adventure with Him this year. Through our “followship” of Him and fellowship with Him and each other, He will expand His Kingdom and bring glory to Himself. He will also do an amazing work in each of our lives and in the life of our church family. The slate is blank, the adventure awaits, we’re in an interesting place as the Sun of Righteousness is saying “Follow Me.” He is inviting us to “press on” with Him because He knows the plans He has for us and the healing He has in store for us as we do life together. He stands at the gate of 2013 and asks “do you want to be made well (John 5:6)?” How will you respond to your Savior’s call this year?

On the 1st Sunday of January, I happily began my 5th year serving as your senior Pastor. As your under-shepherd, my prayer is at the conclusion of 2013, we’ll be rejoicing together of the healing we’ve received from our Savior Jesus Christ and we’ll be singing “To God be the glory great things He has done.” I’m looking forward to our adventure together, from my little corner of the world to yours…

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church 

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